This Saturday UFC’s final card on FOX is set to go out with a bang. “Raging” Al Iaquinta (13-4-1, 8-3 UFC) will take on Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (17-3, 10-3 UFC) in the main event LIVE from The Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. This will be the second matchup between Iaquinta and Lee who squared off back in 2014. Both fighters have evolved and shown improvement in different aspects of their fight games. Although matured, both a bit more established, polished and higher ranked, one thing hasn’t changed. Iaquinta and Lee very simply do not like each other. Expect to see the intensity that fuels off of that in the octagon on Saturday.
Back in 2014 Kevin Lee was appearing in his first UFC fight taking on a fighter in Iaquinta who was making a name for himself in the Lightweight division. The 21 year old Lee came in talking a big game against Iaquinta who had just won two fights in a row. “He did a lot of talking leading up to the fight.” Iaquinta said. “I think I definitely humbled him after that.” In the end it was a unanimous decision win for Iaquinta, a loss that has since lingered on Kevin Lee’s mind.
Although both impressively added to their fight resume over the years it was Lee who was more active since the initial match up. Lee fighting twelve times and Iaquinta seven.
Following the loss Lee continued to stay active recording four consecutive victories. He would record other notable victories over Francisco Trinaldo, Micheal Chiesa, and Edson Barboza. Iaquinta stayed busy himself with wins over the likes of Rodrigo Damm, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, and Jorge Masvidal. Iaquinta would then be sidelined from 2015-2017 on account of injuries as well as contract disputes with the UFC. Raging Al would come back with a vengeance in 2017 knocking out UFC veteran Diego Sanchez.
Back in April Iaquinta would step in on a day’s notice to fight the dangerous Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight title. Originally training for a three round fight against a different opponent, Iaquinta would go all five rounds with Nurmagomedov, opening up the eyes of many and showing that Iaquinta could compete with the best in the division.
Lee now ranked 4th in the lightweight division will look to avenge his first loss against the 8th ranked Iaquinta. Never at a loss for words, Lee had plenty to say. “Al’s a tough guy, I’m not going to take it away from him.” Lee said. “I don’t really like him, but I’m going to respect his style and I’m going to respect his skills.” Lee went on “He’s got some good qualities, probably, but we just are two different types of people. He’s that Jersey boy (To note Iaquinta is born and raised in New York) that’s going to get drunk and f*ck up a hotel room, his voice shouldn’t be no bigger than it already is, so I feel like it’s my personal duty to get him up out of there and put him back on the prelims.”
The Serra Longo fighter respectively had a few things of his own to say. “He’s improved all around since the last fight.” Iaquinta said. “He’s more confident, bigger, stronger.” Iaquinta went on “I’ve improved since then too. I was a smarter fighter than, and I’m a smarter fighter now. He got lucky he got me so early on otherwise he would have gotten knocked out like the others after him.”
Whichever competitor you root for Saturday if you’re a fight fan this is a must see. Two fighters at the top of the lightweight division, both looking to get back into title contention, and both with something to prove. “I’ve visualized the fight going many different ways” Raging Al said. “No matter how it happens, I’m getting my hand raised.”